The Miami Hurricanes, who entered the game as 17-point favorites, escaped with a narrow one point victory against the Houston Cougars.
Miami, who trailed 10-7 at halftime and 13-7 early in the second half, eventually overcame offensive woes to beat the Houston 14-13.
The ‘Canes were carried by freshman tailback Javarris James, who rushed for a Miami freshman record 148 yards and one touchdown.
“I just tried to mentally prepare myself as much as I could. I felt good out there,” James said. “I wasn’t as nervous as I was in the Florida State game.”
Miami opened the game with a seven play, 80 yard drive, which culminated in a touchdown. Miami quarterback Kyle Wright went two-for-two, including a 45-yard bomb to wide receiver Lance Leggett. James had one reception for 16 yards and ran the ball five times for 19 yards. James punched it in from the one-yard line to cap off the drive, giving the Hurricanes a 7-0 lead.
Houston’s first drive was halted when defensive end Calais Campbell sacked quarterback Kevin Kolb for a five yard loss.
The Hurricanes’ offense became its own worst enemy in the second drive, allowing two false starts to slow down the drive. Wright threw an interception to Houston free safety Will Gulley.
Kolb put together a solid drive, passing for 54 yards and rushing for nine more. The 12-play, 66 yard drive concluded when Kolb ran it in from four yards out, tying the score 7-7.
The Cougar offense had little time to rest after Wright threw his second interception of the game.
After a sack by defensive end Antonio Dixon, Houston put three points on the board with a 38 yard field goal which gave them the 10-7 lead at the half.
“We talked about what we needed to do and we came out in the second half and executed,” Sam Shields, wide receiver, said. “Coker just told us to forget about the first half and come back in the second half strong.”
On the first drive to open the half, Houston came up with a number of key plays. A nine-yard sack by defensive tackle Bryan Pata helped Miami keep the damage to minimal, forcing the Cougars to kick a 35 yard field goal.
Down 13-7, freshman Javarris James tried to get Miami back into the game, carrying the ball three times for 6, 11, and 15-yard gains.
Instead, Miami’s offensive saw two incomplete passes and a minimal gain by tailback Charlie Jones on the next three plays.
Free safety Lovon Ponder was able to strip the ball from Houston tailback Jackie Battle in the third.
“It was the turning point in the game,” Head Coach Larry Coker said. “The defense forced the turnover and our offense converted. It was a huge play in this game.”
Penalties and missed opportunities resulted in a third-and-24, leaving the offense in a tough spot. Miami needed someone to step up, and Leggett rose to the challenge. He was able to haul in a 27 yard strike from Wright, giving Miami a first-and-goal from the two. On the next play, Wright would hook up with James Bryant, putting Miami up 14-13.
The offense was less successful on their next possession as Jon Peattie failed to connect on a 35 yard field goal.
“We put in a lot of hard work during the off week,” Anthony Wollschlager, offensive lineman, said. “To come out and win is really good for the team morale. We finished off the first half sloppy.”
Pravin Patel may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.